Landscape Ecology

, Volume 29, Issue 10, pp 1799–1810 | Cite as

Genesis and evolution of the cultural landscape in central Mediterranean: the ‘where, when and how’ through the palynological approach

  • Anna Maria MercuriEmail author


Cultural landscapes are priority research themes addressed in many fields of knowledge. Botanists can explore the ecological, formal and cognitive level of cultural landscapes with different approaches. Palynologists study both palaeoenvironmental (off-site) and archaeological (on-site) records and are, therefore, in a privileged corner to observe the origin and history of present landscapes, what is their true nature and vocation, what must be preserved or transformed for the future. The study of an archaeological site shows short space–time events and the behaviour of a few people. In order, though, to attain a regional and cross-area cultural landscape reconstruction, many sites must be studied as part of a regional multi-point site and with an interdisciplinary approach. The likelihood to observe human-induced environments in pollen diagrams depends on the nature and productivity of human-related plant species. In the Mediterranean area, many Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic sites point to the long-term action on the environment. However, the pollen signal of pre-Holocene and early Holocene human impact is ambiguous or weak. The effects of culture became evident, and possibly irreversible, as a consequence of human permanence in a certain land. In the Bronze age, the establishment of human-induced environments was evident from the combination of decrease of forest cover and increase of cereal and synanthropic pollen types in pollen records.


Pollen Archaeobotany Palaeoecology Long-term human impact 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Life Sciences, Laboratory of Palynology and PalaeobotanyUniversity of Modena and Reggio EmiliaModenaItaly

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